Obama, Scaramucci and the Non-answer Answer
The stage was set. Audience was in rapt attentive posture. A President, whose ascent to the office soared atop the aspirations and hope of millions, had just been asked a question reeking of gaudy entitlement and almost unbelievable amount of “rightful” indignation.
In September 2010, almost two years after becoming President, Barack Obama, attended a televised townhall meeting. He was asked several questions but there was one question asked by a then hedge fund manager and his former Harvard classmate, Anthony Scaramucci, that potentially teed him up for a fitting repost. The need of the moment was to dig deep and find the right words and expressions to give voice to millions across the US who had faced the brunt of the financial crisis precipitated, in large part, by the actions of a community personified by the questioner.
What we got instead was a masterclass of temporizing equivalence.
Anthony Scaramucci used the simile of a piñata to describe the Wall St. community that was set upon by the general public, news organization and government agencies. The irony of the simile used was beyond fitting. A typical piñata is hung up on the roof and children are encouraged to have a go at it to get to the candy hidden inside the decorated figure. Wall Street executives like Scaramucci were primarily responsible for setting up the house of cards that upon collapsing took the American and even the world economy with it.
Obama should have used Scaramucci’s own analogy to point out his own duty to the suffering public. He should have pointed out that what Wall Street Execs needed was a clean and unhindered flogging delivered via the offices of public trust…like a piñata!
Instead, the viewers watching that day got an unambiguous eyeshot into the President’s view of the world. He lamented the bonuses granted to the Wall Street bankers given the same year when the proverbial cookie crumbled in an almighty haste. The jeremiad was delivered in such a hushed tone and was despoiled of any vigor to an extent that the audience neither got the benefit of an empty catharsis from a due tell off nor even a pale shade of the extreme prejudice with which the President was supposed to have delivered justice for the millions wronged, across the United States.
President Obama was able to surf a wave of popularity, like only a native Hawaiian could, to two consecutive terms to the office. He had the benefits of education, a thinking and perceptive mind and the support of diverse pillars inside and outside the apparatus of the most powerful organization in the world, the US government. What he didn’t have was the will to use it for the benefit of his fellow countrymen! He left office in 2016 but the tunes of hope and change died, or were at least mortally wounded, well before that in the Autumn winds of 2010.